The outline planning application was submitted by development company Lugano in Febuary for land at Birney Hill Farm, on the boundary of the Darras Hall Estate, Ponteland. The proposed £96m development by Lugano would see almost 300 houses built in the greenbelt if approved. In my opinion, approval by the County Council could see protection for the greenbelt effectively torn up, as developers would have their foot in the door.
I have long campaigned for the protection of the Greenbelt around Ponteland and Darras Hall and I serve as the Secretary of the All Party Group for the Greenbelt in Parliament. This new application is not going to be like Darras Hall. It proposes a much higher density of housing and is simply a shot across the bows. Let us not forget Lugano have already bought up another 2,500 acres of land in the area; there are other landowners interested in developing their holdings in and around Ponteland and Darras Hall. The Birney Hill development is their key in the door, and its approval would be disastrous for our greenbelt.
I am proud of the fight we have waged against developers Lugano. All we have is local people, and myself, versus a large corporation, with an interesting tax arrangement, backed by its slick pr team paying mega bucks to try to secure this development. We will not be bullied by anyone, no matter how well funded, when it comes to standing up for our greenbelt, and we shall do everything possible to help the residents stand up for the Ponteland Greenbelt.